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Delivering on cloud: Raw chicken doesn’t taste like chicken soup

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In my last post about delivering on cloud, I discussed the needs of a company in relation to a car and a race car.

stewart h soup potNow that we have touched on the difference between using a cloud to provision managed (hosted) and unmanaged servers, we should explore which option is right for you.  This is no different than asking if you are a chef who needs raw chicken to create a brand new recipe, or whether you would rather sit down in a restaurant and eat pre-cooked chicken soup. The chef is like a developer who needs a transient system as a base for development, and the business owner is like the customer who would prefer to sit down and eat the prepared soup.

Or are you sometimes one, sometimes the other and sometimes in between?

Everyone talks about cloud workload selection, but for this discussion I prefer to talk about higher-level business use cases.  To me, this provides a more logical view of the business processes you are trying to enable with cloud and often does a better job of framing expected functionality, costs and outcomes.

Customer Use Cases

Figure 1: Common cloud use cases

Before a religious debate breaks out about whether any of these use cases are still relevant in “the new way of cloud thinking,” let me assure you that these are very real requirements from IBM Strategic Outsourcing customers. I have heard at least ten different enterprises, from small and medium businesses (SMB) to very large organizations, request exactly this style of tiered management capability within this past month alone.

This is what CTOs and VPs of infrastructure are asking for, right now.

Although they want rapid and elastic infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provisioning, they want to foster innovation by enabling their developers to move at a faster pace and they want to explore the latest and greatest technology, they (almost) always need cost savings to make the cloud viable for their business. Selling them on the idea of innovation alone just doesn’t cut it—they want cloud to actually create cost savings, including both one-time provisioning costs and steady state management costs, which are two very different things. And it is this cost reduction that is the main driver for tiered levels of managed services. For production workloads, a full suite of managed services makes perfect sense to guarantee the reliability and compliancy of applications that drive business, but as the use case moves further away from full production, the reliability and compliancy become less restrictive and offers a way to remove cost.

Tiered Server Management

Figure 2: Tiered Server Management
(This is not meant to be an exhaustive list)

Tiered server management allows an enterprise to make sure that costs are aligned and optimized to the use case; following the analogy of this blog post, you can pick the ingredients for your soup.  Figure 2 is far from an exhaustive list of management services, but this list covers most of the heavy hitters commonly requested from IBM Strategic Outsourcing. These are also the services that have the heaviest impact on ongoing costs and one-time provisioning, and would be the best to align with a tiered service management model.

Unfortunately, these also happen to be the services that generate the biggest barrier to standardization and cost savings. Most enterprises already have existing tooling or process investments in place and they want cloud provisioning to integrate with their existing way of life, rather than accepting that the selection criteria for those existing tools and process was probably based on factors no longer relevant in a cloud model.

So you will have to decide, Mr. or Mrs. Customer: which services are critical to the success of your cloud provisioned servers?  You can’t expect to pay for raw chicken alone and still have it taste like chicken soup.

Remember that eating raw chicken doesn’t just taste bad—it can kill you.

If you need production level stability, then tools and process transformation will be required in order to succeed. Make sure to balance speed, elasticity, reliability, compliancy and cost against the use cases that actually drive your business.

Please share your thoughts and follow me on Twitter @Stewart_Hyman.

For more information on managed services, watch this short video:

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